The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Ahni Trail welcomes guests to Ohlone-Portolá Heritage Hike

Erik Cheng
The trail sign at the Fassler parking lot proudly displays the new name.

The Ohlone-Portolá Heritage Hike is an annual event held by the Pacifica Parks and Recreation Department to celebrate Ohlone heritage. This year’s, in particular, was to spotlight a new initiative: honoring indigenous legacy by renaming San Mateo County’s trails.

Hikers gathered to officially commemorate the naming of the Ahni Trail, the first of many to be renamed. 

According to Jim Sullivan of the Open Space and Parkland Advisory Committee, “ahni” means rock in the Ramaytush Ohlone language.

Initially, the trail was unnamed and a part of “Cattle Hill,” but after a survey held in early 2021, Pacifica Residents chose “ahni” out of the four other options.

The Ohlone-Portola Heritage Trail (OPHT) Committee, consisting of representatives from local indigenous tribes to the National Park Service, spearheads the project to rename many of the trails in the Pacifica area. According to their website, the entire Ohlone-Portola Heritage Trail plans to be 90 miles long. It links historic expedition routes from when the first Spanish explorers arrived in the Bay Area and the local Ohlone Villages.  

The Ahni Trail overlooks the coast and allows guests to view the mountain ranges once inhabited by the Ramaytush Ohlone. (Erik Cheng)

Specifically, 2019 marked 10,000 years of Ohlone residency in the peninsula and 250 years since Spanish explorer and namesake for the Portola Valley, Gaspar de Portolá, first discovered the San Francisco Bay, according to the City of Pacifica website.

The event was hosted on Saturday, starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Pacifica Community Center. The organizers, Patricia Kremer and Michael Perez, kicked off the event with videos about the Portola expedition and Ohlone that lived in the area.

However, during the discussion, some guests questioned the accuracy of the representation of the Ohlone people. 

“I think it’s one thing for the descendants of colonizers to say, ‘Yeah, we want to correct history. And we want to pay tribute,'” said Claire Jackson, a hike participant. “But we need the voices of the descendants of the indigenous people who were affected. Their voices really need to be heard.”

After voicing their concerns, guests moved to the nearby Fassler Parking Lot to watch the ceremonial ribbon cutting for the trail’s opening. 

Mayor Beckmeyer and Mayor Pro Tem Bier cut the ribbon and officially welcome guests to the Ahni Trail to explore its vast history.

Following a short debrief, the guests began hiking up the trail. Park ranger Erick Cortes led the group with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). As they walked, Cortes explained his connection to the project.

“I connect with indigenous history in a way that I don’t connect with any other,” Cortes said. “Why is that? Because typically, you see the plight of people of color of indigenous folks, of African Americans, and it’s very much a similar story. Different characters play the same story; it’s a story of colonization and white supremacy.” 

The OHPT Committee continues renaming trails in the Pacifica Area to honor the Ramaytush Ohlone and surrounding Ohlone tribes. The committee strives to educate Pacifica’s community and its surrounding communities of America’s true history from a Native American point of view, precisely an Ohlone point of view.

“So we sort of zeroed in on the missions, and that was it. And then, oh, yeah, there were some native people,” said Mayor Sue Beckmeyer. “But it was sort of glossed over. It was more about the Spaniards and all about the discoveries. And that was the major focus and most people’s takeaway.”

After the ceremony, the park ranger, Erick Cortes, held a short debrief, detailing all participants on pace, mileage, and other important information before the hike began.  (Erik Cheng)

Beckmeyer, who also serves as a librarian at a local elementary school, explained her current goal for the library.

“I know for my children, their big takeaway was building their mission project,” Beckmeyer said. “And I feel like the actual story behind all that got a little lost for them. So now I’m working on making sure that what we have in the school library collection reflects the truth as much as possible.”

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About the Contributor
Erik Cheng
Erik Cheng, Scot Scoop Managing Editor
Erik Cheng (Class of 2024) enjoys camping, backpacking, cooking, and photography. He currently serves as Managing Editor of Scot Scoop but continues to explore his passion for discovering local stories and investigation. You can find him discovering new communities in the area, hiking up mountains, desperately trying not to burn down his parents' kitchen, working at REI, or taking photos of the local flora and fauna. View his portfolio here.

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  • K

    KyraNov 12, 2021 at 1:18 am

    well written and very informative!

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
Ahni Trail welcomes guests to Ohlone-Portolá Heritage Hike